Dogs somehow make life a little richer, especially life on a farm. When I look back at the dogs who have been a part of our life, it's like each dog's time with us is a chapter in a book.
Since we've been here, we've had a Rosco chapter, an Annie chapter and a Skippy chapter - too many chapters by my standards, but that's how life goes sometimes.
Skippy's chapter ended recently, but his chapter is filled with many fond memories.
We started a new chapter this week with Suzy. I'm hoping it's one of those chapters that lasts for half a book.
But before I start sharing stories about Suzy, here's one last excerpt from Skippy's chapter. (And an entry for the chapter about pets in general.)
It was Easter Monday. The kids were still exhausted from the busy weekend and the effects of the spring sniffles. Monika had fallen asleep in the skidloader while mixing feed with Glen and was transferred to her stroller to nap there.
With no sister to play with, Dan asked if he could go in the house and watch a movie. I agreed, thinking he could use the down time to rest and recuperate. I went with him to the house to start the movie and get him a snack. After Dan was settled into the recliner, I returned to the barn to continue my chores.
A little while later, Dan came back outside to ask if he could wake Monika up so that she could come in the house with him. I told him he could not, so he hung around for a couple minutes and then went back to the house.
A bit later, Dan showed up in the barn and again asked if he could wake Monika. My answer was the same, so he returned to the house and I kept working.
By the time Dan came out of the house the third time, I was standing at the milk house sink filling bottles for bull calves. That sink has a window in front of it which gives me a view of our front door. I watched as Dan stepped out of the house and set Betty Kitty - a young, super-friendly, black-and-white barn cat - down on the steps. Betty Kitty bee-lined for the barn and Dan came strolling after.
I quickly put two and two together and met Dan at the milkhouse door.
"Did you have Betty Kitty in the house with you?" I asked.
"No. No, I didn't," he replied, shaking his head vigorously.
"Are you sure you didn't have Betty Kitty in the house with you?"
"I'm sure. I'm sure," he fired back.
"Dan, you have to tell me the truth. You won't be in trouble if you tell me the truth, but if you lie, you're going to be in trouble."
In a voice a full octave lower he slowly said, "Yeah, I had her in the house."
"Did she poop anywhere?" I asked.
"No, she didn't. I'm sure."
"Dan, honey, barn cats need to stay outside. They don't know how to be house cats," I tried to explain.
"OK," he said solemnly. "I just wanted somebody to keep me company."
After I finished up the last of my chores, we went to the house and I quizzed Dan again about his house guest.
"Where was Betty Kitty while she was in the house?"
"In the living room with me," he said.
"How did you keep Betty Kitty in the living room?" I asked.
"I closed the door," he answered. (We have a sliding pocket door between the kitchen and living room, which is seldom closed.)
"Where did she sit while she was in the living room?"
"Right here and right here and right here," Dan said, pointing to a spot on the floor, the recliner and a couch cushion.
I inspected the living room and didn't find any trace of cat hair or cat poop. I decided that Dan was at least responsible enough to keep Betty Kitty locked in the living room with him, but explained again that barn cats need to stay outside.
The next night, I caught Dan and Monika throwing eggs - a transgression that makes my blood boil and something they had already been disciplined for just a few days earlier.
I only had a few minutes left of chores, so I marched them to the house while reciting my lecture about respecting the chickens and the food they give us. I sat them down on the bench in the porch and told them not to move while I finished up.
When I returned to the house, I was surprised to find both children still sitting in the porch. However, the gate to the kitchen was open, so I knew they hadn't been in the porch the entire time.
I was about to leave Dan and Monika in the porch and head down to the basement to change out of my barn clothes, but decided they should sit in the living room instead. I'm not sure why I didn't just leave them in the porch, but it was a good decision. Maybe it was mothers' intuition.
I escorted them to the living room and found the pocket door closed. Both children were remarkably silent. I slid the pocket door open. There, right next to the recliner, looking up at me, stood Skippy.
It took everything I had not to laugh at the situation. Apparently, I should have made it clear the night before that all outside animals need to stay outside - not just the cats.
I turned around to find Dan watching me with look of sheepish worry. "Monika helped, too," was all he said.
I called Skippy to the door. He seemed more than eager to get back outside. I can only imagine how much effort it took Dan and Monika to get Skippy into the living room, because when he didn't want to do something, he'd just plop down on the ground and play statue.
With Skippy safely back in his domain, I repeated my explanation from the night before about outside animals in the house, this time emphasizing that all outside animals need to stay outside.
I went to bed that night glad the kids can't catch chickens. Yet.